THE first step in paving the way for the establishment of a new plastics factory in Skibbereen was taken at a Municipal District meeting on Monday.
Senior executive planner with the Council’s Planning Policy Unit, Padraig Moran, briefed the West Cork councillors about the planning process involved in amending Skibbereen’s Local Area Plan.
The councillors unanimously supported a request by the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) – the owners of the site – to reduce the town’s green belt by about 2.5 hectares and increase the adjoining industrial site at Poundlick from 6.2 to 8.7 hectares.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said he had spoken with the business people behind the proposed new venture and said: ‘They are very proud of their West Cork connections and thought it proper that they establish a business in the locality.’
He said the company, which manufactures engineered plastics, has 18 manufacturing plants in America and throughout the world, including one in Germany, France, Mexico and two in Asia. But the family, which has strong family connections in Drinagh, asked the IDA to find them a suitable West Cork site.
Cllr Carroll said: ‘This is very good news for Skibbereen. A lot of towns would like to get this kind of news at the start of the year.’
He said: ‘The location chosen by the IDA is most suitable because the first factory built on that site was Starball, followed by O’Donnell Designs, and others.’
He said a new factory would ‘enhance the site’ and that 50 new jobs that the factory is likely to create would do a lot to improve the local economy. Cllr Mary Hegarty (FG) said a factory of this size ‘would not only benefit Skibbereen, it would benefit all of West Cork.’
Cllr Hegarty said: ‘It is great that people who have left Ireland and been successful are coming back to the area and investing in its future.’ Her party colleague Noel O’Donovan (FG) expressed the hope that ‘more initiatives like this will happen throughout West Cork.’
Cllr Declan Hurley (Ind) welcomed the fact that the Skibbereen initiative involves ‘people with local connections: people who have done well in other countries’. And he suggested: ‘We should send out the message that other West Cork communities can do the same.’
Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF) said: ‘Initiatives like this deserve our support. We should be making it easier for investors to do businesses in West Cork.’
And Cllr Michael Collins (Ind) welcomed the news, saying: ‘It is a unique opportunity for Skibbereen.’
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) said: ‘The addition of a new factory in this location is a natural expansion.’
He also commented on the success of the Ludgate digital hub initiative in Skibbereen and its Digital Week, as well as initiatives by A Taste of West Cork Food Festival – all of which are bringing sustainable jobs to the area.
Municipal District chairman, Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) said: ‘Skibbereen has been crying out for development’ and now it was starting to look as if the Capital of the Carberies was poised to become ‘a capital of employment.’
Cllr O’Sullivan commented on the timeline for the planning process involved in changing the Local Area Plan
‘It has to be done in the correct way. But this piece of land is perfect for this kind of development and it is great that it has the support of all the Municipal District members,’ he said.
Padraig Moran advised the councillors that the proposed amended document would be published on Tuesday, February 2nd next.
It, together with an environmental report and habitats directive assessment, would be put on display for inspection and receipt of submissions, he told them.